Kinston Towers reopens to residents - WRBL

Kinston Towers reopens to residents

Posted: Updated:
KINSTON, N.C. -

Kinston Towers is back open.

And people living there are thankful.

Three weeks ago, an electrical fire forced residents into temporary housing. Many stayed in area hotels where the red cross provided two meals a day.

Thursday morning, volunteers helped make the return home a pleasant experience.

"It would have been very difficult without the Red Cross. They were there from day one, hour one, had the shelter set up for us and they had the meals, and emergency management helped us to arrange the transit to get them to the hotels. And it's really been a community effort," said Ronda Abbott, Kinston Housing Auth. Exec. Dir.

To give everyone time to get to the grocery store, the Red Cross is feeding them tonight and will have lunch for everyone tomorrow.

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One week later, nearly 150 people are still shut out of their homes when an electrical fire erupted in the Kinston Towers. Now, Housing Authority officials say it will take another month before the building is safe to live in again.

But the Red Cross, Kinston Housing Authority and Lenoir County Emergency Management are still making the residents a priority. 

Wednesday morning the three agencies met for an hour to evaluate their response and make sure they're meeting the needs of all displaced residents.

For the past week, the Housing Authority has provided free rooms for nearly 100 people at local hotels. Meanwhile, the Red Cross provides them with two hot meals a day.

The Hampton Inn even reserves a conference room each day so residents can come together to watch TV, eat lunch and dinner, and socialize.

"Since the Red Cross jumped in and took care of our housing and the meals that we had to eat, I've been alright with the whole thing," Evelyn Baker says. "I'm thankful that the Lord let them come in because he did it. I know he did it."

Next Monday the North Carolina Baptist Men group will begin volunteering to prepare all meals.

If you want to help, you can donate to your local Red Cross chapter through their disaster relief fund.

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Officials at the Kinston Housing Authority said Monday that electrical repairs from last weeks fire should be completed in 3 to 4 weeks.

After that, reoccupancy will get underway.

Those evacuated from the building will be put up in local hotels. If you need a room, contact the Housing Authority at (252) 523-1195, extension 0.

The KHA said there are some vacancies at Six Churches Plaza, Paylor Apartments, and other housing properties. Anyone who wants to be permanently relocated to another KHA property should call the KHA at (252) 523-1195, extension 0.

Meals are served daily at the hotels and are coordinated by the American Red Cross.  Also, additional per diem checks will be issued. They can be cashed at Piggly Wiggly on Hwy 70 and Wells Fargo Bank at Vernon Park Mall at no charge. 

R & W Transportation will continue to run routes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Residents can still pick up their mail from their Kinston Towers mailbox.

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The Kinston Housing Authority says all residents evacuated from Kinston Towers have now been relocated. About 70 are staying in area hotels. The rest are staying with friends and family.

Nearly 150 people were evacuated from the Towers apartment after an overnight electrical fire.

Woody Spencer with the Kinston Police Department tells 9 On Your Side firefighters were called to Kinston Towers just before midnight Tuesday. He says a loud explosion was heard and smoke began pouring from the 22nd floor electrical room around 1:30 a.m. The building was then evacuated.

We're told one firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation and dehydration. Residents were taken to a nearby community shelter. Wednesday morning they were allowed back in the building to get medication and personal items.

The power is expected to be out for 3 to 10 days to the building. The Kinston Housing Authority is working to relocate displaced residents.

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